This past September (2013), Google made a big splash with its first algorithm replacement in years – dubbed the “Hummingbird.” Sure, Google has been making updates over the years to their current algorithm, but this is the first time in at least a decade that they have made a change this major. To help better understand what this change will mean to your business, it may be helpful to take a step back and clarify some things about search results.
First of all, there is some confusion about what exactly an algorithm is and its function. An algorithm is basically a scientific formula used to determine a set outcome. In other words, you input a certain type (and/or amount) of data, it goes through the algorithm(formula) and spits out a result on the other end. In the case of search engines, the purpose of the algorithm is to bring you the most relevant search results for your queries.
A primary reason why Google has roughly 80% of the market share in the search game is because over the years, they have earned a reputation for having the most complex algorithms that produce the most accurate search results for consumers. The Hummingbird is an updated algorithm that is designed to keep Google light years ahead of its competitors and first in the minds of consumers when it comes to web searches.
How Does Hummingbird Change Things?
The installation of the new Hummingbird algorithm has been compared to taking out an old car engine and putting in a new one. While the Google Panda and Penguin updates were akin to swapping out engine parts, like an air filter or radiator, the Hummingbird replaces the engine itself. The new Hummingbird engine is designed for precision and speed with the purpose of helping Google adapt to the rapidly changing mobile and social digital landscape.
The biggest change to come out of the new Hummingbird algorithm is that Google is no longer putting as much emphasis on exact keyword results, and more emphasis on what they think consumers mean when they are typing in a search. Google’s search for meaning depends on a number of factors, such as the consumer’s location and any other data Google may have access to on the consumer, such as their Google Plus and Gmail accounts. The end result should be a better consumer experience with less frustration from getting inaccurate search results.
How Does Hummingbird Impact an Effective SEO Strategy?
Whenever Google comes out with a major update, inevitably there are some that say this is the end of SEO. But the fact is that search engine optimization will continue to be an important internet marketing strategy for local businesses. It’s just that things are more complicated as the web becomes more mobile, and consumer location and social signals have become more important. Gone are the days when you could build a website, throw up a few links, and rank on the first page of Google. Today, you need a more comprehensive strategy that still involves back-linking, page rank, and other factors that have been important in the past. But the new SEO is also about social signals and high quality content.
Content is King
“Content Marketing” is a term that will become increasingly popular in the post Hummingbird era. Now, more than ever, it is critical for your business to have authoritative content (in both written and video form) for your website to be recognized by Google. Regular blogging will help your website stay relevant and up to date, and tell Google that you are still in business. It will also help you rank for many of these “conversational” search terms that the Hummingbird update finds important. So to succeed online today, you need to develop a deliberate content marketing strategy. Produce new content on a weekly basis – content that is relevant and provides value to your target audience – and distribute your content across all your online properties. If you keep this up consistently, Google will reward you with higher rankings, increased web traffic, and ultimately a higher return on your internet marketing dollar.
Google Hummingbird Algorithm